Brockley Cross Action Group: a history

Brockley Central is helping the Brockley Cross Action Group to draw up some publicity materials and as part of the process we sat down with its chair, Des Kirkland, to talk through the history of the group. He provided a useful insight into its achievements and we thought BC readers would be interested to hear more ...

BCAG was founded in 2000 by a group of local people who were concerned that the area had become overlooked by the council and was becoming shabby.

It initially covered the conservation area only, but its remit has expanded 'because nobody else is doing what we’re doing', Des explains. The group now aims to cover the whole of Brockley ward.

BCAG has a broad-based ongoing improvement programme which includes:
- Engaging with Lewisham Council, other public bodies and local businesses to address infrastructure and public realm issues such as litter, graffiti, poor roads and pavement maintenance, and pedestrian safety.
- Carrying out community works such as the creation and maintenance of public gardens and trees, and the installation of noticeboards on housing estates.
- Liasing with prospective developers about their schemes to ensure they are in keeping with the local area and contribute to the established community.

The group is a registered charity with 9 trustees. There are 15 committee members and attendance at meetings varies but Des estimates that 50-70 is the average. Priorities are set by local people’s feedback at the meetings.

In addition to its ongoing improvement programme BCAG has undertaken several major projects, including:
- Launching the annual Brockley Max arts festival
- Installing that poem written in large letters along Shardloes Rd
- Organising a clean-up of derelict land on Mantle Rd by Brockley train station
- Setting up Brockley’s first Christmas market in Coulgate St
- Launching the area’s first 5k fun run, which took place recently
- Creating a train station flowerbed over the course of a weekend with a team of volunteers at a cost of £1,500
- Winning planning permission to create a new public space on Brockley Common.

BCAG's funding comes from donations from local people and businesses, and the council from time to time. The group picks its priorities and then fundraises specifically for these projects.

BCAG’s goals for the future include:
- Finishing off Brockley Common;
- The launch of new gallery Tea Leaf Arts later in 2008 (subject to funding, as already covered here on BC);
- Campaigning for improvements in local retail: 'There are too many takeaways and locals want a good butchers and fish shop,' Des says.
- Clearing up a derelict garage on Vulcan Terrace;
- Improvement of the Mantle Rd planters by John Stainer School, using money from Lewisham Council’s localities fund;
- Re-opening Brockley Lane train station, which is on the Lewisham-Victoria line. This is something the group has been interested in for quite some time. 'We did a feasibility study to demonstrate there was enough demand to justify re-opening the high level link but Lewisham Council are against it,' says Des.
- Re-development of the Brockley Cross roundabout. The council paid for a surveyors’ consultation in 2005 and a number of different possible designs were drawn up, but no further action has yet been taken.
- Campaigning for more facilities for local people. 'There are very few facilities for local kids, nowhere for them to go to play snooker and nowhere for young teens other than playing on Hilly Fields,' Des said.

Obviously the group has achieved a lot in a short space of time and hopefully it will continue to thrive. BC wishes it the best of luck in its efforts; it would be great to see our readers get involved with the hard work and help to shape the group's priorities. Anyone interested in volunteering can check out the group's website here.